Savile’s Victims Ignored - UK Charity Report
26 February 2014 at 2:51 pm
A UK children’s charity report reveals that many of victims of UK paedophile broadcaster Jimmy Savile were ignored or laughed at when they revealed at the time that he had sexually abused them.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children new NSPCC research shows children were ignored, felt unable to speak out and suffered trauma into adulthood.
Others were so convinced they wouldn't be believed, because Saville was such a powerful and influential character, that they stayed silent.
And the report says some victims are still unable to speak out. The former BBC presenter died aged 84 in October 2011 – a year before allegations that he had sexually abused children were made public.
"The responses these victims received when they first revealed Savile's sickening crimes makes heart-rending reading. They were ignored, dismissed, not believed, laughed at and astonishingly told in some cases they should feel lucky he had paid them attention,” the NSPCC's Director of National Services, Peter Watt said.
"Half a century on the world finally discovered just how dreadful his crimes were – something these men and women had known all that time but felt powerless to do anything about.
“The anger, frustration and sheer helplessness of the situation obviously damaged their lives in various ways. But they showed true courage in coming forward once more to talk about their experiences and hopefully they can now start to put the terrible trauma behind them.
The report said that 50 years on, a significant number of the men and women interviewed for the children's charity's report – 'Would they have actually believed me' – have still not confided in friends and family about the abuse.
“Some of the victims, who were aged between 8 and 26-years-old when Savile assaulted them, told hospital staff who dismissed their claims. One of the 26 interviewed by NSPCC counsellors went to the police but no action was taken. The vast majority were children when they were abused but four were adults. Some were even told they were 'lucky someone like Savile had paid them attention.”
The research, which was commissioned by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and conducted by the NSPCC, highlights what it describes as the devastating scars the abuse has left, with some turning to drink and drugs to cope. Others have suffered mental illness, poor relationships or contemplated suicide.
“And the appalling memories have remained with some able to recall precise details, such as the clothes they were wearing on the day they were assaulted, the smell of Savile or the last words he spoke to them,” the report said.
A large number of those asked by the NSPCC to take part in the research said they couldn't because, decades later, they were still suffering from the emotional trauma caused by the abuse.
The report shows that when Savile's litany of sex crimes became public knowledge at the end of 2012 a few of his victims suffered flashbacks and felt physically sick when they saw pictures of him.
However the report said that extensive media coverage made them realise they were “not alone” – which if they had known at the time would have encouraged more of them to report the crimes.
Three quarters of the victims did not even understand as children that they had been sexually abused by the celebrity. Some of those interviewed said they knew at the time that something “wasn't right” but felt helpless, ashamed or intimidated by Savile's fame.
"Huge steps have been made in the way these crimes are handled by police. Victims are more confident that they will be listened to and taken seriously, but they still feel there's some way to go to make it a less daunting experience.” Peter Watt said.
"We have moved on. But sadly children are still being shamed, embarrassed or threatened into silence by sex offenders. There is greater awareness now but we all have still a role to play in looking out for the signs of abuse so we can protect children and ensure there is never a repeat of the Savile scandal."